Women are emotional.
I can say that because I am one. While I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my dad cry, I’ve been known to cry over just about everything. From heart-felt commercials to heated disagreements, and from reality TV shows like Extreme Home Makeover (tissues, please!) to stress at work, I’m a master at turning on the waterworks.
I think a lot of women can relate. We cry over the significant and the insignificant, which leaves our men scratching their heads and wondering what to do—and not do—when it matters most. So before she releases those pent-up emotions caused by frustration and hurt, allow me to give you some insider information:
1. DON’T try to fix it.
I know. This is hard. It goes against every fiber in your being. Though well-meaning, men are notorious for trying to fix a situation that doesn’t necessarily need fixing—at least not yet. Sometimes we have to talk it out in order to work it out. Take a look at this video:
Okay, all joking aside and disregarding the exaggerated gender stereotypes, there’s something to be said about this video: A) It’s relatable and B) there’s a nugget of truth in it. At about 1:12, we see a moment where the man “gets it.” Well, sort of. He shakes his head, offers a bit of forced empathy, and the woman reaches out her hand and thanks him for listening. As crazy as it may seem, that’s exactly what we need.
We need you to listen. Really listen. Validate our feelings. Offer your support. Empathize with us. Sure, you may see the solution right there in front of us, but please hold off for a moment and lend us your ear (James 1:9, Proverbs 18:13).
2. DO hold her.
When the floodgates erupt, hold her. Swallow her up in your strong arms and remind her that everything is going to be okay. And then just let her cry.
3. DON’T tell her to calm down or stop crying.
Telling her that she’s overreacting minimizes her feelings, which means she’ll be less likely to open up to you again in the future.
4. DO apologize.
Relationships can get messy. When a fight breaks out, more often than not, both parties are at fault. If you did or said something that may have caused her tears, man up and apologize–even if she started it. She may need to apologize too, but start the heart-healing process by being the first one to make a move.
5. DON’T ask her if she’s PMSing.
6. DO pray for her.
Your wife or girlfriend may need room to breathe, space for her thoughts. If that’s the way she copes, pray for her—but from a distance. Give her the alone time she desires, while lifting her up in prayer. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
7. DON’T assume it’s about how you folded the towels.
Have you ever graciously helped your wife fold the laundry just to be snapped at for folding the towels the wrong way? While there’s no excuse for her to lash out and you deserve an apology, know that it’s probably not about the towels—or even you, for that matter.
My husband and I have this theory called, “The 10 Percent Theory.” Let me give you an example: One thing leads to another and before you know it, we’ve tumbled into an argument over something terribly insignificant, like how he’s folded the laundry, and I’ve unraveled into a bucket of tears. And so my husband calmly asks, “What’s your 10 percent?”
For me, this is a cue. A reminder to pause, take a breath, and think about what’s really bothering me. What’s the 10 percent I’m not sharing with him? What am I withholding? Because that’s where the tears are likely coming from. Turns out, what I’m taking out on him—and the laundry—is a deep sense of being under-appreciated at work. Once that’s identified, we can start really talking, apologizing, and perhaps, even fixing.
Ladies, a word for you, too: don’t beat around the bush. Men shoot straight and if you know what’s wrong, tell him. If you don’t, well, you don’t. But tell him that, too. The more honest you can be with your feelings, the easier it will be for your man to comfort you.
And lastly: Gentlemen, it can be tough to open up and standing before you as a blubbering, vulnerable mess. But we do it anyways because we trust you. Because we feel our hearts are safe with you. So take our tears, in a way, as a compliment.
Men, how do you respond when she cries? Ladies, what’s the best way you receive comfort? Sound off in the comments below.